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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The bad news: The Army and Air Force Exchange Service recently decided to halve its gasoline discount coupon to $1.

The good news: AAFES said it felt able to do this because gas still costs significantly less there than it does in the States.

The discount drop took effect March 26, said Air Force Master Sgt. Howard Smith, an AAFES spokesman. He said that in place of the $1 savings patrons lost at the pump, another AAFES retail item will get a $1 markdown — but AAFES has yet to decide what item will be marked down.

Still, some drivers said the lost fuel discount will pinch. Dianne Silva, for instance, said the change will hit her pocketbook hard.

“Jobs don’t pay a lot over here for people like me,” said Silva, the daughter of a Marine stationed on Okinawa. Every dollar makes a difference, she said.

AAFES initially offered the fuel coupon when Pacific region fuel prices were at or above stateside gas prices, Smith said.

The coupon has fluctuated in the past, he said, noting it was as much as $3 in 2001 but has been at the $1 level before.

AAFES outlets in Japan now sell midgrade unleaded fuel for $1.44 per gallon. In the States, the Department of Energy average for the same fuel in March was $1.80 per gallon.

Learning about the lowered coupon savings nettled Staff Sgt. Jason Cornelison, who arrived at Foster’s gas station with $2 coupons that had expired a week ago.

“This gas stuff is getting crazy,” he said.

Warren Allshouse, a retired airman who lives on Okinawa, said the $1 coupon is better than nothing.

“I like the $2 coupon. It was a nice little discount, especially filling up this Japanese gas guzzler,” he said pointing to his vehicle. “But if they’re going to go to this other one, it’s still a buck saved.”

Smith noted that AAFES is the only exchange service in the Pacific to offer coupon savings for fuel.

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